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|Who will win the World Cup? Ask a golfer. ()|
As we all know, soccer is the world's most popular sport, and this series will prove once and for all that the easiest way to predict winners in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany is to examine the golf scene of each competing nation.
We will eventually decide an ultimate winner, long before the World Cup has ended. This prediction will follow the same format as the World Cup, with eight groups first fighting it out, with only 16 nations advancing to final, single-elimination tournament.
In this second of three articles (click here for part I) are the final results of group play, as Groups E through H fight it out to advance to the final 16 and the knockout rounds.
Comments: In the real soccer world, the United States will need some impressive footwork to get through group play. In a world where you use a nation's golf history as a deciding factor, however, the Americans are a big favorite to win it all.
The golf courses include Pebble Beach and Augusta National. The golfers include the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The Ryder Cup, one of the biggest events in all of golf features, the United States against all of Europe. Like it or not, America is the place when it comes to golf, and they easily advance to the knockout round.
Italy is well known for its taste for elegance, and in Northern Italy you can find the most sophisticated spots. The exquisite beauty of Golf Club Castelconturbia is a fine example of the golf courses offered in Italy, while golfers such as Constantino Rocca and Sophie Sandolo show the talent and grace of the Italian game.
Comments: Brazil's soccer team is so good that even judging it by golf standards, you'd feel guilty and wrong not picking it to get through the first round of the World Cup. Plus, Brazil has seen its golf grow over the years; designers like Dan Blankenship have put in the work, and high-quality courses like Costa do Sauipe and the Comandatuba Ocean Course stand up to any on the planet.
A tough battle for second sees Australia sneak through. The Aussies were just happy to make the World Cup, but this nation knows its golf. Courses like The National Golf Club and golfers like Greg Norman make Australia a tough nation to beat on the links.
In the 2006 World Cup, North and South Korea will unite for a common cause. A united Korea advances here: Combine South Korean jewels like Seon-Hwa Lee and Grace Park combine with Kim Jong Il's otherworldly golf abilities (11 aces in a round) and the two Koreas are tough to beat on the links and on the pitch.
4. Saudi Arabia
Comments: Beautiful and diverse golf courses that have shown the ability to survive drought conditions make Spain an easy pick to advance, even without taking into account Spaniards Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia and the large expat golfing population.
Tunisia is the home to several golf courses, many of them designed by Ron Fream. That's enough to advance in an amazingly weak group.
Nations advancing to the next round: Germany, Costa Rica, England, Sweden, Argentina, the Netherlands, Mexico, Portugal, United States, Italy, Brazil, Australia, France, Korea, Spain, Tunisia.
On his popular talk show, Argentine star Diego Maradona admitted that his 1986 "Hand of God" goal against England was, in fact, illegal.
June 9, 2006
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
Myrtle Beach, S.C. has its elite golf courses. The more economical end of the spectrum, though, doesn't necessarily mean a pure sacrifice of the game. There are solid rounds that far exceed the accompanying low-dollar greens fees. Here are four courses that have withstood the test of time and don't take a significant chunk out the bank account.
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